In a remarkable turn of events, Israel Adesanya has emerged victorious over Alex Pereira, securing a magnificent knockout victory to recapture the coveted middleweight title at UFC 287 held in Miami.
The Brazilian fighter was vanquished in the second round of the bout, allowing Adesanya to avenge his sole UFC loss in the middleweight category.
Following his previous defeat to Pereira in November, which saw him relinquish the 185-pound (84kg) championship belt he had proudly held since 2019, Adesanya was eager for a prompt rematch. And, with sheer determination and skill, he demonstrated his dominance in the octagon, emerging triumphant over his opponent in a spectacular fashion.
At the Kaseya Centre on a late Saturday, during UFC 287, Israel Adesanya delivered two powerful right punches, causing the middleweight champion, Pereira, to fall to the ground. Adesanya raised his fists in victory as he reclaimed his middleweight championship belt, solidifying his status as one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.
Adesanya expressed his elation, hoping that everyone watching the fight, whether present in the arena or watching behind the screen, could experience this level of happiness at least once in their life.
He also added that one can never experience such a level of happiness if they do not pursue their dreams.
The first round of the fight was relatively cautious, with Pereira targeting Adesanya’s lead leg with ferocious kicks. However, in the second round, the fight became more intense as both fighters landed head kicks early on. Adesanya’s precise boxing skills began to have an impact, and he ultimately emerged victorious.
In the second round, Pereira managed to land a knee that pushed Adesanya into the cage. However, Adesanya recovered quickly and retaliated with two right hooks and a powerful right hammer fist, followed by a series of ground and pound strikes, ending the fight at 4:21.
Pereira, who is 35 years old, had previously never lost to Adesanya, who is 33 years old. Prior to claiming the welterweight belt in UFC 281 in November through a TKO victory, Pereira had defeated Adesanya twice in kickboxing matches.
Adesanya, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in New Zealand, joined the UFC in 2018 and achieved a remarkable knockout win over then-champion Robert Whittaker a year later to secure the middleweight belt.
He continued to defend his title successfully five times, eventually becoming one of the sport’s most popular attractions. On Saturday, he was in an unusual position as a challenger.
Adesanya remarked, “They say revenge is sweet, and if you know me, I have a sweet tooth.”
“I pretended to be unconscious for a moment. That final blow had everything. That last hammer fist was from the heavens,” Adesanya added.
Jorge Masvidal, with a record of 35 wins and 17 losses, faced Gilbert Burns, the fifth-ranked welterweight contender, in a co-main event that took place in Miami, Masvidal’s hometown, for the first time in two decades.
Jorge Masvidal Retires From Fighting
Despite the crowd’s chants of “Let’s go, Jorge” throughout the fight, Burns won by a unanimous decision. Masvidal struggled as Burns landed several head shots that left him fatigued as the match progressed.
Despite the result, Burns praised Masvidal’s 52 professional fights after the match, telling the crowd that they were there because of him. Masvidal, who is now 38 years old, had lost his previous three fights, including two title challenges against Kamaru Usman and a unanimous decision to his longtime adversary Colby Covington.
After the fight, Masvidal appeared to announce his retirement from the sport, saying, “It’s been a long 20 years, 50-something fights. Sometimes, your favorite basketball player doesn’t have that three-pointer anymore. Your favorite quarterback loses that rifle. And I don’t feel the same when I get in here.”
In another fight, Rob Font, a veteran with a record of 20 wins and 6 losses, ended Adrian Yanez’s nine-fight winning streak with a knockout in the first round at 2:57. Although both fighters exchanged blows early on, Font landed a powerful right hook that sent Yanez to the canvas. Font, who returned to pay-per-view after five years, finished the fight with ground and pound.
“I needed this finish for myself. I needed it for my team. I needed it for my family,” Font said, ecstatic with the victory.